About Ivana De Domenico
Ivana De Domenico is based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Ivana completed her Bachelors degree in Biological Science in 2002 at the University of Messina, Sicily. Her thesis described the purification and characterization of recombinant Caulobacter crescentus Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (De Domenico I et al Biochim Biophys Acta, 2006). In the same year, Ivana De Domenico matriculated into the Cellular, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology graduate program at the University of Messina, Italy, completing her Ph.D. in the laboratory of Dr. Giovanni Musci in 2005.
As part of this program, Ivana De Domenico worked at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Her early work focused on iron metabolism with a particular interest in hepcidin, ferroportin (Fpn) and ferritin. Hepcidin is a peptide hormone transcriptionally regulated by iron, inflammation and hypoxia. Hepcidin was originally described as a defensin with potent antimicrobial properties but its main role is in iron transport. Hepcidin binds to its only known receptor, ferroportin (Fpn) an iron exporter protein, and causes its internalization and degradation. Ivana De Domenico experiments described the interaction of these two proteins how the phosphorylation of Fpn lead to the receptor’s activation and degradation led to several important publications (De Domenico I, et al Mol Biol Cell, 2008; De Domenico et al PNAS, 2009; De Domenico et al JCI, 2010). This work led to the development of a validated assay for the detection of hepcidin in both mice and humans (De Domenico I et al, Cell Metabol, 2008).
Hepcidin secreted in high amounts leads to iron-limited-erythropoiesis, a condition commonly associated with the anemia of inflammation (aka. anemia of chronic disease). Hepcidin secretion is increased in subjects with chronic kidney diseases, rheumatic diseases, malignancies and bacterial infections. Subjects with these diseases commonly have anemia of inflammation. This interest led me to showed that Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, increases hepcidin secretion through activation of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 (Koening C et al. Blood, 2009). Further work with Mycoplasma arthritidis, a bacterium that causes arthritis in mice, showed hepcidin secretion could also be activated through other TLRs (Koening et al. J Inflammation, 2009). Serum hepcidin levels were inversely correlated with serum iron values and had an important role in the anemia that developed in infected mice.
Others showed that hepcidin had antimicrobial properties suggesting that the peptide had effects beyond iron transport. Ivana De Domenico confirmed these findings by showing iron-loaded macrophages change their transcriptional response when cultured with hepcidin. These experiments led to the unexpected finding that hepcidin also had anti-inflammatory effects. In a manuscript published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2010, she showed that mice injected with hepcidin could survive lethal injections of LPS. Ivana De Domenico also showed that the protective effects of hepcidin were through down-regulation of proinflammatory cytokines. These findings have been corroborated by others and led to an NIH grant awarded to Dr. Ivana De Domenico to study transcriptional regulation of Fpn.
Growing up in a European family that enjoyed traveling enabled Ivana De Domenico to appreciate different cultures at a very early age. Whether she was learning to ski in Northern Italy at the age of 5, or walking the beaches of southern Spain just a few years later, Ms. De Domenico somehow knew that she would become accustomed to living as a globetrotter.
Ivana De Domenico currently lives in the United States of America; however, in her three and a half decades of life, she has been to nearly all the continents of the world (with the exception of Antarctica), though there are so many places she still hopes to visit.
Although traveling is one of Ivana De Domenico’s many interests and hobbies, she also considers it a serious career. In reality, Ivana understands travel as a way to enrich her life and become a more global citizen. Ms. De Domenico fully immerses herself in her new environment whether she is staying for a short time, or for a prolonged sabbatical. Ivana researches her destinations in advance in an effort to learn the languages and ways of life with the hope of truly being lost in the crowd of her temporary home. Ivana De Domenico believes that the only way to truly appreciate the world and its beauty are to walk the streets with the people who live there.